First up here's some newspaper coverage of the first ever Test: 2,000 matches and over 100 years later, and the game doesn't seem to have changed much. One thing that's noticeable from the coverage is the sense of excitement among the followers. As the report states, only a few hundred were there at the start, misinformed about the start time and aggrieved by Allen's withdrawal from the game. For the second day, there were 4,000 present. The eventual success of the competition gave rise to the Ashes.
There was certainly a lot of excitement about this one. The queues stretched for miles, St John's Wood Tube was closed for a time, and I was bloody lucky to get in, thanks to a mate who'd been queuing all morning. We had some nice seats near the front of the Tavern stand. I would say the crowd was about 60/40 per cent Indian/English fans, many of them youngsters thanks to the MCC's fantastic U16s ticketing policy.
Boy, does our attack look good. Broad looks the nastiest - wiry strength, a beautiful run up, a high, explosive action - the man looks built for the purpose of propelling a cricket ball very fast. Tremlett (see below), is quite simply a monster. I didn't see him bowl a half volley all day, and pretty much anything that lands in his half is going to be hard to hit. Anderson looked less threatening from side on, but the accuracy was incredible. And this was one of the first games I've seen him be really effective without really swinging the ball, until he got the new one. The bowling to dismiss Raina - sharp away swing following sharp inswing - was brilliant. At his best I think he's at the forefront of sport - an incredible combination of athleticism and skill. And watching Swann from side on is a great sight - you can see the subtle variations in flight and dip, probably a lot better than the batsman can.
So I got to see Sachin bat, in the 2000th Test, and.....he faced about 30 balls and struck a single run. He was clearly under the weather. Poor sod. Everyone in the ground - or anyone with any sense, which on the whole cricket followers have - wanted him to get a ton. Many of them, myself included, might have favoured that over an England win. So he didn't make any runs, but the tenets of his technique were clear to see - absolutely, emphatically forward or back in defence to every ball.
The other thing I found captivating was England's fielding. Pietersen and Morgan, in particular, seemed to have a kind of sixth sense about where the ball would be, beginning their movements almost at the split second ball met bat. England as a whole were an impressive unit - Morgan put one down and quick as a flash there was a fielder running up to him and patting him on the back. Upon taking the final wicket they looked like what they are - a group of friends celebrating together.
As to the result, it never really felt in much doubt. But my God, have the Indians had some bad luck with Khan, Gambhir and Tendulkar. With Khan I feel some blame has to be laid at the coach's door - if you're going to turn up with a half-cooked bowler, there's a question over whether seven batsmen is the right option, well though Raina played in the last innings. But all that didn't stop the atmosphere from being buzzing all day. I'm delighted I was there.